Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles celebrates the historic 50th ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, triggering Entry into Force in January 2020.

Today, Honduras ratified the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), becoming the 50th nation to do so, enacting a legally binding agreement among state parties to not “develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess, or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”  This milestone is a huge victory for activists around the globe who continue to put pressure on their elected officials to take a stand against these dangerous, unnecessary, and now illegal weapons. The Treaty stipulates 90 days after the 50th nation ratifies the treaty, it will enter into force.

For decades, physicians and healthcare professionals have spearheaded global efforts to reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons, knowing how destructive and indiscriminate these weapons are. In 1985, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW),  the international affiliate of PSR, won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work to increase public awareness of the medical consequences of nuclear war. IPPNW founded the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for mobilizing more than 400 NGOs across 100 countries to advocate for the TPNW. Two-thirds of the world’s countries, 122 nations, voted for the U.N to adopt the landmark treaty in July 2017. 

The TPNW follows on the heels of other successful efforts to ban indiscriminate weapons of war, including the Anti-Personnel Landmine Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention, both of which shifted international norms and greatly stigmatized and reduced the presence of these weapons. PSR-LA is particularly excited by the treaty stipulation that requires state parties to “adequately provide age- and gender-sensitive assistance, without discrimination, including medical care rehabilitation, and psychological support” to victims of nuclear weapons testing, an unaddressed injustice that occurs to this day in communities throughout the U.S.  

While all 9 nuclear-armed states refused to take part in the treaty negotiations, the majority, including the U.S., are bound by the Non-Proliferation Treaty “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control,” a promise we plan to hold Congress and the next administration to, at long last.

PSR-LA is doing this work through our leadership in the Back from the Brink campaign, which brings communities throughout the U.S. together to advocate for common sense policies that can reduce and prevent the threat of nuclear war and create a pathway for the U.S. to join the TPNW. Resolutions in support of our campaign have already passed in 47 cities, including Los Angeles and the state legislatures of California and Oregon. Over 30 of these resolutions explicitly support the TPNW.  With your help, we can continue to grow this movement until we too are victorious.  

PSR-LA will continue our work to highlight the health impacts of nuclear weapons, with particular emphasis on the communities of color who have disproportionately suffered these impacts, by working with ICAN and IPPNW to build support for the treaty and its goal of nuclear abolition within the U.S. The passage of this treaty provides us with a great sense of opportunity, and a profound respect for the work that still needs to be done.  Nuclear weapons have been greatly reduced before, but only when citizens demanded saner leadership and an end to the theory of mutually assured destruction that hangs over all of us each day.  We ask that you join us in both celebrating this victory and in working with us in the weeks and months ahead to keep pressure on elected officials to move toward nuclear abolition.  

If you have any questions about the treaty or how you can get more involved in this work, email Alex at ajasset@psr-la.org.